Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced in a press conference June 15, 2012, that a $2 billion planned tourist development in Baja California was to be canceled because of its proximity to a pristine coral reef. The project, which was still in the planning stages by Spanish developer Hansa Urbana, was to include 15 hotels, golf courses, a marina and a jet landing strip. The proposed development was about 3 miles from the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. “The Cabo Cortes project will not be carried out,” Calderon said Friday.
Calderon, who is in his last year in office, cited the unknown environmental impact the resort would have on the marine park as the reason to cancel the development. He also said that he would help the investors to develop a sustainable and environmentally project in its place. The 10,000-acre proposed development was first approved by Mexico’s Environment Ministry in 2008. It has since been the subject of legal battles and lawsuits between the developer and environmentalists, culminating for now in the cancellation of the project. Any proposed project in the future will be determined by the next president of Mexico.
Cabo Pulmo was dedicated a marine preserve by the Mexican government in 1995. It encompasses 7,111 hectares of land and surrounding water. Its hard coral reef is home to more than 800 species of marine animals, including corals such as Pocillopora verrucosa and Pocillopora capitata, and sea snail species including the Wood’s brown cone (Conus brunneus) and the prince cone (C. princeps). There is also a healthy population of sharks, which are apex reef predators. According to a report published last year in the journal PLoS ONE, apex reef predators are a sign that a reef is doing well. (The paper is called “Large Recovery of Fish Biomass in a No-Take Marine Reserve.”)
Watch the video to view the diversity of the reef at Cabo Pulmo.